O2’s Taphouse and Grill in Edmonton, Alberta has been accused of having poor taste, but not for the food.
Women patrons and groups are angry with the Canadian bar for its unique urinals found in the men’s restrooms. The urinals are designed in the shape of women’s mouths.
Lily Le, a customer, found the urinals to be misogynist and an “extreme form of degradation against females.” Le wrote her concerns in a letter to the restaurant’s management team:
“You may feel that this is art, a joke or simply, just a urinal, however the act of a man urinating in a women’s mouth, cartoon or not, perpetuates the mindset that women are objects, simply existing for male desire. When 1/3 women are sexually assaulted worldwide(1) and over 4/5 Canadian women have reported experiencing sexual harassment(2) , we must ask ourselves why actions like this occur. Although some employees I have spoken to have argued that these urinals are harmless, I strongly believe that they are only aiding in creating disrespectful attitudes that lead to violence against women.” (source)
Neil Seifeddine, one of the owners of the restaurant, responded to Le’s letter stating that he didn’t think the urinals belonged to the lips of a woman.
“When my business partner first saw the urinals he thought it was the Rolling Stones lips. I heard someone on face book thinks it looks like the Dairy Queen Lips. I really didn’t think they where women’s lips at all. I probably thought the same thing as the people who designed it; that it would be funny to make a urinal in the shape of a mouth, girl or guy. My point is that there are so many different perspectives one can take in this issue. When I first seen this urinal, I thought this is funny. It never once entered in my head that it was demining to women, otherwise I wouldn’t have even thought of putting them into my pub, because believe it or not I share the same passion for women’s rights as you do.” (source)
Seifeddine, in his letter, agreed that something needs to be done to protect the rights of women and children, but he decided that he would not be removing the urinals from his restaurant.
Erin Gloria Ryan wasn’t convinced, in her blog post for Jezebel, that the urinals were not the lips of a woman.
“Of course. Bright red lips are so coveted in the male world that men often purchase lipsticks to enhance their natural color. And yes, obviously it’s also the Dairy Queen lips, because nothing says “urinate into me” like the logo of a fast food chain known for soft serve ice cream. If they’re not supposed to be women’s mouths, then why do no Mick Jager-shaped ladies’ toilets exist? Why are we being denied the fun of the golden gargle?” (source)
This isn’t the first time these urinals have caused controversy. Care2Petition reports that the urinals have been protested in Canada and in the United States.
“The urinals, designed to look like women’s open, bright-red lips, have been removed from other Canadian bars after patrons protested the fixtures. In the U.S., the National Organization for Women halted the installation of the urinals in a JFK airport lounge.” (source)
Please share your thoughts…
Do you believe that these urinals are designed in the shape of women’s mouths? What messages, if any, are being sent to men and young boys when they see these urinals? What must be done in this situation to protect the rights of women? Would providing women a male-version toilet do any good?